This I Believe

Virginia - Ames, Iowa
Entered on December 28, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: humility
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I’m twenty years old. I used to long to be this age. I wanted my own place to live, the intellectual stimulation of college, freedom to make my own decisions … and truly, those things are wonderful in many ways.

But along with the wonderful things came difficulties. Along with my own place to live came rent. Along with “intellectual stimulation” came questions bigger than me.

And I don’t know if I could ever have predicted how much I would sometimes detest “the freedom to make my own decisions.” I graduated from high school and suddenly the world asked, “What do you want to be?” It took a while for me to get over the blinding force of that question. Actually, I’m not over it. I’ve just kind of learned not to stare at it — like how you can’t stare at the sun, I guess.

So through all these tumultuous things, what solid thing has weathered the storms? I could say Jesus. And I do; He has been constant, and He’s provided me with many resources to help me find my footing. But faith in Him has been challenged — it’s come through the fire, but it has been challenged — these past few years.

What I want to talk about here is sincerity.

I have been so many things! I’ve been a Christian — a very doubtful one, as well as a very hopeful one … I’ve been a fashion design major, a journalism and English major … I’ve been rebellious, depressed, ecstatic … and through it all, one thing that’s been a sort of life preserver has been the ability to be sincere. To be honest about who I really am.

Am I bragging about my sincerity? I hope not … I don’t really see it as something flowing out of me as much as something to hold tightly onto.

You see, when you stop being honest with yourself, you no longer want life as it truly is — you just want to get through it. And that’s a scary place to be.

But the wonderful thing about sincerity is that you can grab onto it any time—even if you’ve lied to yourself or others for years, sincerity will help you pick up the pieces again. From things people tend to hide in their personal lives — affairs, addictions, any personal struggle, really — to the most essential philosophical questions, I believe that sincerity is the first essential key. Without it, you will never get anywhere.

Of course, sincerity does bring pain. The questions, “What do you really think? How do you really feel? Where are you wrong? What do you know for sure?” have sometimes been more searing than I’ve thought I could bear. But when I’ve let them come, they’ve given me freedom and sanity. No matter what the struggle, I’ve been able to breathe in it by being real.